You know what's cooler than growing veins using your own stem cells? How
about being the first to have them implanted right back into your body.
That's exactly what a team of scientists from the University of
Gothenburg have managed to achieve.
The operation which took place about a year ago involved a 10-year-old girl who had a blocked hepatic portal vein, which is the blood vessel which takes blood away from the gut and to the liver. These damaged vessels are usually replaced with sections snipped from healthy vein located elsewhere in the body in order to avoid internal bleeding.
But the Swedish team had different ideas, and decided to grow a 4-inch long vein for her by harvesting her bone marrow stem cells before implanting it back inside the girl's body. Two doctors writing about the procedure in the Lancet explain a little more on the results:
"The young girl in this report was spared the trauma of having veins harvested from the deep neck or leg with the associated risk of lower limb disorders, and avoided the need for a liver or multivisceral transplantation... [S]he has an improved exercise tolerance and evidence of improved cognition. Thus, in a long-term economic analysis, the substantial price for a one-off, personalised treatment can be justified. However acute pressures on health systems mean that this argument might be impractical in larger numbers of patients."